Charlene Li At Graphing Social Patterns

Today and tomorrow I will be at the Graphing Social Patterns conference in San Diego. There are a lot of great speakers speaking at the event. If you are here, definitely stop by and say hello! Right now Charlene Li of Forrester Research is speaking on stage. She speaking about the future of social networks.

Charlene’s first topic of discussion is the components of social networks and how they are going to evolve. There are four primary points of discusion:

  1. The Profile – This section will eventually evolve toward universal identity
  2. Relationships – There will eventually be a single social graph
  3. Activities – There will soon be a social context for activities (I think this is through tools such as twitter)
  4. Business Model – Social Influence is the value within the social web.

Charlene is giving a basic overview of the current issue being the issue of multiple identities. As she suggests, eventually we will have a universal identity which will most likely come from our email address. At the same time we will see universal identity foundations emerge as leaders such as OpenID. Additionally, a few major players will serve as the main focal points and interesting enough these will be the older companies such as Yahoo!, Microsoft, Google and Plaxo. In order to get to the future, companies will need to work together via groups such as the Data Portability Workgroup.

Charlene is discussing the bill of rights for users of the social web which was published by Joseph Smarr, Marc Canter, Robert Scoble and Mike Arrington. So what is the social graph? Charlene is presenting the images generated by the friend graphing applications on Facebook. The fundamental flaw with her existing social graph is that there are a lot of people missing from her Facebook social graph.

People missing includes colleagues, parents, extended family, school parents, neighbors, babysitter, walking group, etc. Charlene is emphasizing that many of the people in her social groups aren’t members.

Charlene is now talking about social media fatigue and how this is a problem. The result is going to be new entrants that help break open the clutter taking place on the social web. They will most likely be the older companies such as Microsoft, Yahoo! and other large players. I partially agree with Charlene on this but I wonder if even Google will be successful at making the social web a less complex place.

Charlene suggests that relationship mapping will soon be automatic and permission based. She also is discussing what people are doing today on social networks. Charlene is also explaining how the social aspects within Facebook and other social sites can be extended to other sites such as Amazon and Yahoo!. Tools such as search, financial portfolio management and others can all be “socialized.”

Charlene suggests that each person will eventually have a “personal CPM.” I could not agree more with Charlene on this point. Just this weekend I was doing a weekly braindump and concluded that it makes no sense that these sites get to monetize us through our social profiles. I’ll save you from any elaboration on this topic currently. She is now discussing the evolution of social platforms. The various phases were: walled garden services, portal aggregators, search freedom and we will soon see data portability and finally ubiquitous social networks.

In order for us to make the transition to data portability and ubiquitous social networks we will be a trust relationship with users, Charlene suggests. Companies will not compete on locking users in but instead on creating the most compelling social experience. Charlene adds that we need to start developing useful social applications. This has been a serious complaint since the platform launched last May. Another suggestion of Charlene is to integrate social networks into existing activities.

Here’s her slideshow:

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